Posts tagged “frustration

Chasing Truth: Chapter 36

Posted on 28/02/2020

Image result for ringing cell phone

Mari adjusted her bag on her shoulder while she stood on the porch waiting for Reese to complete his walk-through of the house. They’d had a great day of tours, but she was ready to wind down. No matter how many walk-throughs he did, he never found anything. She didn’t expect today to be any different.

From inside, she heard the distinct ringing of the phone Blake left her. Only knowing Reese would immediately lose all friendliness if she went in before he cleared the house kept her outside waiting.

He met her at the door a few moments later, holding out the ringing phone. She smiled and quickly answered it.

“Hey, Blake.”

“My Mari. How are things on the island?”

“We’re living the life over here. We just got back from work. Work being hiking and scuba diving for a few hours. I could eat an octopus.”

Blake chuckled as she dropped her bag by the door and kicked off her shoes. “You have the better end of the deal, that’s for sure. Appetite and all, except maybe hold off on the octopus.”

“That’s the best part.” She hesitated for a moment. “It’s good to hear from you,” she confessed dropping onto the couch. It wasn’t the first time he’d called since he left, but he sounded more relaxed.

“I’m glad you feel that way, but I’m feeling jealous. Reese tells me you all threw a nice welcome party for him. If you keep it up, he’s not going to want to come home and then what am I going to do?”

Mari laughed and kicked her sock-covered feet up on the arm of the sofa as she stretched out. “I had nothing to do with that. I was just along for the ride. It was one heck of a party, though. We’ll have to throw you one when you come back.”

“From what I hear, I’d be a fool to turn down that offer. I know it probably hasn’t been comfortable having someone you don’t know constantly in your space, but it’s made it easier not to worry as much.”

Mari lifted her head in an attempt to catch sight of Reese who was making noise in the kitchen. “He’s not half bad,” she admitted dropping her head back down. “We’ve been getting along.”

“That’s good. Reese can be easy that way. How are Raoul and Allie?”

“They’re fine. Raoul came hiking with us today, so we had a good time together. We were talking about doing a camping trip after Reese leaves. Allie says it’s not good manners to drag guests camping.”

Blake laughed. “Reese wouldn’t have a problem with it.”

“Allie does. Can’t be rude. So we’ll wait.”

“Allie’s word is law.”

“She’s the only normal one in the family, so we trust her judgment on stuff like that.”

They both laughed. When it naturally tapered off, Blake continued.

“And Tyler?”

Mari’s guard went up. What else had Reese shared besides news of the party? “He’s fine.”

“You never did say how long you’ve been seeing him.”

“Some months now.”

“So it’s serious then? He treats you well?”

Mari sighed and sat upright. “If this is about last night, you can just change the subject.” As soon as she said the words she felt his tension.

“What happened last night?”

Mari’s eyes shot to Reese who was standing at the island. He smirked and raised a brow, clearly understanding her predicament. She’d just told on herself when he hadn’t.

“Nothing,” she mumbled.

“It was enough for you to mention it. Did Reese leave out something he should have told me?”

“No, because there’s nothing to tell.”

“Marielle.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Is that the dad voice? Really? I’m too old for that to have any effect.”

“Are you?”

“Yes,” she said firmly.

He fell silent. She shifted on the sofa.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” she finally said in exasperation. “The boyfriend doesn’t like a strange man in my space. That’s all. Let it go, Blake.”

He was silent for a few moments. “I’ll say this and then I’ll let it go. That man better not ever harm a hair on your head.”

He didn’t need to reiterate he meant it. She could feel the sincerity of his words and it warmed her.

“I’ll make sure he understands.”

“Good. I have to go now. I’ll talk to you soon. Be safe.”

“You too. Talk to you soon,” she echoed.

She swung her feet back to the ground to sit upright on the couch as she ended the call. Reese walked over and offered her a plate of warmed up leftovers. Accepting it, she leaned back into the cushion.

“You’re pretty handy to have around.”

He smiled and claimed the armchair with a plate of his own. After a few bites, she glanced over at him.

“You didn’t say anything to Blake about last night.”

He didn’t respond. She sighed and added the question.

“Why?”

“I’m here to protect you. I saw something I didn’t like. You assured me it wasn’t an issue. I decided to accept your judgment until I see reason not to. I’m not here to report your every move to Blake and I wouldn’t cause tension between you two unnecessarily.”

She scraped her rice together. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

They ate together with Mari recalling highlights from their day and laying out the plans for tomorrow. She was taking their plates to the kitchen when she heard the knock on the door. She kept walking to the sink as Reese went to see who was there.

“Tyler is here.”

Mari set the dishes in the sink and joined Reese at the door.

“Meet me out back on the deck,” she told Tyler over his shoulder.

He nodded and he went back down the steps before Reese closed the door.

“He and I need to talk, so if you could give us some privacy, that’d be good.”

He studied her. “Don’t leave the deck.”

“I can work with that.”

“Then I’ll give you privacy.”

 Trusting him at his word, she walked out the back door to the deck where Tyler leaned his elbows against the railing. She stepped up beside him, bracing her hands there and looking out.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he greeted softly.

“Hey.”

“I’m surprised your bodyguard didn’t come out with you.” He looked her over when she shrugged and sighed. “You’re upset with me.”

“Annoyed. I’m annoyed. This whole thing is already messy enough without you picking unnecessary fights with Reese. In case you’re confused, last night was an unnecessary fight.”

“Everything I asked him was fair, Mari. You know that. We don’t know anything about him or your father for that matter. You trust him too easily. I don’t like it.”

“Asking questions was one thing, but you let that turn into a big standoff. It didn’t have to get that serious.”

“Maybe I pushed too hard, but what I said stands. You don’t know him.”

“He hasn’t done anything, Tyler.”

“Well, forgive me for not wanting to give him the opportunity, either. I promised you I would keep you safe.”

“I don’t need to be kept safe from Reese.”

“You don’t know that.”

“If he was going to do something, he’s had plenty of chances.”

“Since he has unrestricted access to you, he doesn’t have to be in a rush either.”

“The same thing could be said about you.”

He stiffened before he shoved off the railing. “Is that what you think?”

Mari hung her head and heaved a sigh. “No,” she told the deck.

“Look at me and tell me that’s not what you think,” he demanded grabbing hold of her arm.

Turning into him, she lifted her head. “I said no. I shouldn’t have said that. This is just…a lot.”

Tyler glanced toward the house before looking back at her. “If you’re having second thoughts about this, now’s the time to tell me.”

“Of course I’m having second thoughts,” she hissed. “There’s a man I’m just getting to know living with me. I’m trying to get to know my father over phone calls. And you…”

His eyes glittered. “I what?”

“You’re making all of that even harder to deal with! I’m living it day in and day out and you just keep pushing without telling me anything. I don’t even know what you’ve been doing since this all started.”

“We agreed-”

“I know what we agreed to!”

“Keep it down,” he ground out with another look at the house.

She slid her fingers into her hair and resisted the urge to tug on the curls. “Look, I-”

He cupped her face and took her mouth in a ruthless kiss. Her lips parted in shock. He dove in, pressing her against the railing as he assaulted her senses. She gripped his arms to steady herself, but emotionally she was reeling. She gave herself over to the kiss, leaning into him and the passion of it.

Moments later, he tore his mouth from hers. Their heavy breathing seemed to echo around them.

“I told you I wasn’t going to let this come between us.” His mouth was still close enough his lips brushed hers when he spoke. “I meant that.”

She closed her eyes. “Tyler…”

He kissed her again, gently this time. “We’re taking tonight. You and me. Alone. We’ll talk about this and then we’ll focus on us.”

Her eyes closed. She was tempted and she knew the absolute wrong thing to do in that moment was point out she needed to clear it with Reese first. She lifted a hand, stroking her thumb over his cheekbone.

“We could use that,” she agreed quietly. “I need to take care of a few things here then I’ll come to you.”

“I can wait.”

Reese’s reaction last night told her everything she needed to know about the likelihood of him accepting her plans with ease. She didn’t want Tyler waiting and making it harder. She shook her head.

“I’ll come to you,” she repeated.

“I’ll hold you to that. It’ll give me time to get some things ready for you.”

“Perfect. Go ahead. I’ll call when I’m on my way.”

He kissed her one last time before he smiled and jogged down the stairs to the deck to disappear around the side of the house. Mari rubbed at the back of her neck. Now she just had to sell Reese on the whole thing.

<< Chapter 35                             Chapter 37 >>

Samina’s Chance: Chapter 28

Posted on 28/04/2015

street

Parked behind a cab van outside the William P. Hobby airport, Gabriel’s eyes scanned the crowd strolling out of the sliding door dragging their luggage onto the dock. He glanced down at his watch and clenched his jaw, wishing he’d taken his time driving. Now he’d have to wait a few minutes longer than anticipated.

Leaning back against the chair, he lifted his eyes to the rearview mirror, watching a woman run into a man’s arms and share a long kiss.

His brow furrowed slightly as a memory of the eagerness fluttering in his breast as he waited in the terminal entrance of the Abbeville airport many years ago, holding a bouquet of fresh lilies to give to her. Young and foolishly in love, he couldn’t wait to hold her in his arms and tell her how much he’d missed her.

A tap on the window pulled Gabriel from his reverie. He moved his eyes to the passenger’s window, his jaw tightening involuntarily. Jeremiah gravely watched him on the sidewalk, a bag slung over his broad shoulders.

Pressing down the lock button, Gabriel turned the ignition key to start the car just as Jeremiah slid into the passenger’s seat beside him.

“Thanks,” Jeremiah mumbled stiffly, buckling the belt across his lap. He folded his arms across his chest and propped his head back as if he meant to sleep immediately.

Gabriel didn’t respond at first, pulling out of the parking spot to merge onto the traffic lane. He glanced once at Jeremiah, clocking his friend’s disheveled appearance. Rumpled clothes and uncombed hair. Even his dark skin seemed lackluster and dry. Pulling his gaze back to the road, he sighed. “How did it go?”

Jeremiah had his eyes closed but he managed a tired smile. “It was a good service…” his voice shook and Gabriel peeked at him from the corner of his eye, noting the twitch in Jeremiah’s jaw. “She’s without pain now, so it’s good.”

Facing the road again, Gabriel squeezed the steering wheel. He should let Jeremiah grieve in peace but something bothered him. Once on the interstate highway to home, Gabriel cleared his throat. “Did you visit his grave?”

There was a noted pause before Jeremiah sighed. “Hmm. Aunt Neve’s in the same compound. A block or two down from his.” His eyes remained closed, his face turned toward the window.

Gabriel swallowed hard, flexed his fingers over the steering wheel. “It’s been a long while since we all gathered there. Is it being taken care of?” He’d been by there a few years ago, remembering how he’d spent time plucking out the weeds from around the site, mourning over the neglect of his friend’s grave.

“Seemed like it. Nothing out of place ever since you spoke with the custodian.” Jeremiah paused and Gabriel held his breath. “It’s a pity though….”

“What is?” Gabriel asked, glancing at Jeremiah’s profile before switching lanes.

“Maurice’s death…”

Gabriel stiffened, fingers squeezing the steering wheel.

“It was the beginning of the end for all of us.”

Gabriel clenched his teeth tightly. “No it wasn’t. You and I know it wasn’t his death that caused that.” He didn’t apologize for his cold tone, righteous anger coming over him. He couldn’t stop the dark memories of their adolescence from crowding his thoughts. “Don’t make that mistake again.”

Jeremiah’s shoulders stiffened. “Are you picking a fight with me, Gabriel?”

Gabriel flicked the windshield wipers with great force, the traffic jam up ahead only provoking his anger. “Let’s just get one thing straight, Jeremiah. Whatever you’re referring to was severed long before Maurice’s death.”

“Right.” Jeremiah grunted, shifting closer to the window.

Gabriel threw a seething glare at his friend and faced the traffic with a scowl.

For the remainder of the long drive home, the two friends didn’t exchange a word until Gabriel pulled the SUV into the driveway.

Jeremiah didn’t bother offering a word of thanks, climbing down and slamming the door behind him.

Gabriel watched with clenched teeth as Jeremiah stormed off and just as he started to reverse out of the driveway, he caught Sheena waving furiously at him as she waddled down the pavement to meet him.

“Sheena…” he hesitated, rolling down the window. His brow furrowed in concern as she shielded her face from the drizzling rain.

“Gabe,” Sheena gave him a kind smile. “Thanks for bringing him home. You’re such a good friend to him.” She reached in to squeeze his shoulder before pulling up a covered bowl to the window.

Gabriel fought back a derisive snort as he accepted the bowl. “What’s this?”

“A new recipe for you and Dee to try,” Sheena said proudly, her eyes dancing with delight. “Don’t eat it until you get home.”

He managed a smirk, placing the bowl on the empty passenger’s chair before glancing over her head at the closed front door. His smile waned, guilt settling in. “Take care of him.”

Sheena nodded solemnly and stepped away from the car as Gabriel pulled out of the driveway. “Drive safely,” she called, waving.

Gabriel glanced down once at the bowl of food, his brow furrowed. Deidre would interrogate him about Jeremiah, ask if they’d reconciled. He scowled, turning back to the road. She couldn’t leave well enough alone.

As he turned the corner, something caught his eye just across the bend, at the kiddie playground. The car his son Obadiah had inherited on his sixteenth birthday. It was the only car in the graveled parking lot. Squinting at it just to make sure, Gabriel took a detour, uneasiness replacing his fury for just a moment.

“No word yet?” Deidre eyed the calendar up on the wall, frowning. “Didn’t Sammie tell you where she was going?”

“No Mom,” Karen replied, clearly exasperated. “She hardly takes vacation time off. Let her be for a little while.”

Deidre bit her bottom lip, feeling uneasy. “That’s what I’m worried about. Your sister’s a homebody. She’s not spontaneous like you or Obadiah. Why the sudden change?”

Karen sighed. “She’s stressed, Mom. If I was her, I’d take a year off and travel the world.”

“That doesn’t make me feel better, Karen.” Deidre leaned against the countertop. “Are you sure this is just a vacation? Something’s not right.”

“Mom, please relax. Sammie’s fine.”

And before Deidre could respond, the door swung open. She straightened as a stormy-faced Gabriel and a penitent-looking Obadiah stood in the doorway. “Karen, I’ll call you back.” She disconnected the call before hearing Karen’s protests.

“Get inside,” Gabriel snapped at their youngest, Obadiah. “Now.”

Deidre eyed Obadiah’s disheveled form, raising a brow at his wrinkled shirt. “What’s going on?”

Gabriel ignored her, scowling at Obadiah. “Go pack your things and meet me downstairs.”

Obadiah edged around both parents and stomped up the stairs.

“Don’t make me come after you!” Gabriel barked, eyes blazing with fury.

Cold slithered down her back at his fierce expression. She hadn’t seen him this angry in so long. “What’s going on? What happened?” she grabbed for his arm, eyes widening at his taut muscles. Her eyes jerked to his face, searching for any explanation.

His dark eyes flashed with rage. “You won’t believe where I found your son. What I found him doing.” His body shook with barely-repressed ire.

Deidre’s heart clenched painfully, terrible thoughts crowding her head. “What…” she licked her dry lips. “What did you see?”

Gabriel shook his head in disbelief as if he couldn’t even bring himself to tell her. “I…” He closed his eyes for a second, released a haggard breath that sent cold shivers down Deidre’s legs. “He was in the car. With a girl,” he said, his lips curling in disdain.

“W-what are you saying?” Deidre shook her head, throat tight. “No, don’t say that to me.” She suddenly felt light-headed and turned toward the couch.

He seized her shoulders and pulled her to face him, glaring at her. “Your son was in there, Deidre! Tangled up with a girl. In the back of my car!”

Her body swayed, blood leached from her face. Deidre shook her head, sagging against Gabriel. “No.” Not her baby boy.

Then Gabriel swung his furious gaze over her shoulder, to the stairs. To Obadiah. As he released her, she shivered, wrapping her arms around herself.

He breezed past her to the stairs. “Did you pack your things?”

Deidre whirled around with her heart in her throat. “W-where are you taking him?” She gaped as Gabriel grabbed Obadiah by the collar, pulling him down the stairs. She stood in his path, met his fierce glare. “Where are you taking my son?”

His jaw clenched tightly, eyes hardening. Obadiah’s eyes remained downcast.

She steeled her spine and tilted her chin. “He’s not going anywhere until we talk.”

“Talk about what?” he gritted out. “I refuse to have any son of mine acting like a good-for-nothing.” He jerked Obadiah’s collar. “Get in the car.”

Deidre had no choice but to step aside, her heart racing in her chest as Gabriel pushed Obadiah out the door, wondering what possessed her once gentle husband.

Later that night, Gabriel stood in the doorway of the empty room, staring at his son’s empty mattress. He’d been too harsh tonight, lashing out at his son without stopping to listen. Stepping inside, he flicked on the light switch. Regret squeezed his chest as he surveyed the room.

He trudged to the bed, perching on the edge just beside Obadiah’s open book bag. Tugging out a textbook, he skimmed the pages, reading his son’s illegible scrawl along the margin.

His lips twitched at the highlighted print.

This was the studious work of his son who dreamed of becoming an engineer one day. The thought of anything jeopardizing his son’s future had him seeing red.

Spotting that car today sent him on a tirade he hadn’t experienced since college.  It beckoned a very dark memory he preferred hidden, never to remember again. But it came anyway and Gabriel closed his eyes, reliving it once more.

On a dim Wednesday in the fall of 1970, Gabriel stepped out of the Long-Jones hall in Grambling State University, jumpy with excitement. He could barely contain it, his footsteps quick and light as he crossed the lawn toward the Auditorium building where Odetta waited for him.

Passing Jewett Hall, Gabriel grinned at a group of classmates strolling his way. “Congratulations,” one of them called out as he passed. With a smile and a wave, he strode past them, Odetta on his mind.

Though he was a few minutes late, he knew she would wait. He knew how to make it worth her while. Grinning, Gabriel rubbed the envelope in his right pocket and quickened his steps toward the clubhouse.

Rounding the front of a one-story brick building, Gabriel recognized the tail end of Jeremiah’s beat-up Impala parked on the corner of a rock-paved intersecting road.

Shrugging off the niggling sensation creeping up the back of his neck, he took a detour to investigate. Approaching the back of the car, he heard muffled voices inside. He slowed his steps, curious.

The annoying sense of unease returned, warning him that Odetta would not appreciate his delay. That he could seek Jeremiah out later. Still, he had to wonder why Jeremiah avoided him since he announced his intentions to propose to Odetta after his fellowship application was approved. Though his friend expressed his well wishes, there was sadness in his smile that stayed with Gabriel all week.

He had to know if Jeremiah was okay. Then he’d go find Odetta.

Moving to the driver’s side, Gabriel bent and squinted in through the foggy window. He could make out the broad back of his friend and his lips quirked mischievously. Jeremiah was with a woman. Finally!

Unable to help himself, he grabbed the rusty door handle and jerked it open. “Jere, you sneaky dog—” the rest of his teasing taunt trailed off.

Jeremiah and his lady friend sprang apart.

Gabriel’s smile faded quickly as Jeremiah moved slightly, his gaze falling on the wide-eyed stare of none other than his Odetta.

He took a step back, Jeremiah stumbling out of the car after him. “Gabriel…”

He couldn’t hear or see Jeremiah, only Odetta’s beautiful eyes filled with tears, dark mascara running down her soft cheek and her rose-bud lips trembling. Gabriel inhaled sharply, his constricted lungs screaming for air.

“Gabe, I—” Jeremiah grabbed his hand.

Seeing red, something snapped in him. Gabriel flung a fist into Jeremiah’s face, sending Jeremiah staggering backwards onto the hood of the car.

Odetta’s frightened screams rang in his ears as he grabbed Jeremiah by the collar and flung him toward the dewy grass.

“Gabe…?” Deidre’s soft voice pulled him out just before he drove another fist into Jeremiah’s face.

He jerked his eyes to the door just as Deidre clad in her nightgown stepped into the room, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “Dee…” he croaked through dry lips.

“What are you doing in here?” Her voice was still affected from her crying.

His chest tightened with regret and sadness. Gabriel looked down at the open textbook in his hands, feeling the tears well up in his eyes. “I just don’t understand why this happened. What did I do wrong?”

Deidre quietly settled beside him on the bed and gently rested her head on his shoulder.

<<Chapter 27 || Chapter 29>>

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